Preschool Teachers in East Harlem Hoping for Pay Raise from City’s Budget Surplus

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, M.S. SpEd

Preschool teachers who teach classes of 4-year-old children in East Harlem in New York City received a relatively substantial raise recently and now the city’s preschool teachers who teach classes of 2- and 3-year-old kids are looking for a boost in their pay as well.

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In an effort to attract better quality teachers into the city’s universal pre-Kindergarten expansion program, city officials gave the teachers of 4-year-olds a boost in salary of about $7,000 per year. Their colleagues who teach the 2- and 3-year-olds got no pay raise at all and while their union representatives insist that there is no animosity on the part of the teachers, they are adamant in their request for higher pay.

The pay raise comes to light not only as a result of the other preschool teachers getting a raise, but also due to the fact that the city recently announced a $42 million budgetary surplus, a substantial portion of which went to give pay raises to school bus drivers who worked for private contractors throughout New York City.

Union representatives for the preschool teachers said that the surplus and the raise given to bus drivers is an “encouraging sign” going into negotiations with city officials later this month. The representative said that the city seemed to be in a strong fiscal position and that such a position would provide leverage for their side of the bargaining table with the city.

The raise earlier in the year for preschool teachers other than those teaching 2- and 3-year-olds came out of $17 million that came from New York state coffers and went primarily toward pre-Kindergarten teachers teaching at nonprofit schools. Those working with 2- and 3-year-olds at community based schools did not receive any pay increase consideration.

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Executives from several of Harlem’s childhood education centers agreed that providing a pay increase out of the city’s surplus would be a “good investment of the city’s money” and that the preschool teachers throughout the city deserve a pay increase regardless of the level they are teaching.

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